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Dhaka Tribune

Shadow of the Day

Update : 28 Jul 2022, 01:27 AM

I was a wee little kid when I first came across Linkin Park. Back then, the internet wasn’t as widespread. The cable didn’t have a lot of international channels and compact music players were yet to take off -- in this part of the world anyway. People mainly relied on cassettes that were available here and the music that was shown on the available channels. 

Being a kid, it shouldn’t come as a surprise to hear that I had access to none of these things. I used to listen to the handful of cassettes we already owned but that’s all. Aside from that, I used to watch the music videos that were shown on Cartoon Network late at night, but couldn’t get into them for some reason, so there’s that. 

I remember that I was just finishing up watching “Tom and Jerry” or “The Jetsons” around midnight when this music video came along. It was kinda different from what Cartoon Network had shown upto that point. It had a heavier edge to it and kinda made you wanna jump up and down on your bed. But that’s not what captivated me, what captivated me was the video. It was this otherworldly sci fi epic aboud a war between two opposing factions, and being a kid, I was utterly captivated by it. And that’s when the name of the band came into play. 

I noticed the screen flashing the name “Linkin Park” and mistook the video as a promo for a park where you can actually do the things in the video with drones and sentient machines. I was uttely captivated by the idea and I used to nag my dad for taking me there. He would always assure me with the words “dekha jabe” but being the impatient brat I was, I vowed to myself that I would go there one day as soon as I have enough money. 

Looking back, I guess it was idiotic of myself to think that a place such as that existed. But I guess that’s the magic of childhood, eh, the fact that You believe in magic? 

But that’s a story for another day.

I didn’t have any kind of contact with the band for a long while after that, but that intial exposure left a lasting impact on me. I didn’t know what genres and styles of music meant officially, so I couldn’t describe what I had seen to anyone. But anytime I found similar music, I used to go crazy. This was still the earlier parts of the 2000s, and the internet was not something that I was allowed to have back then. My parents really didn’t listen to me while buying music, so I was stuck listening to their choices. But whenever I came across something that sounded like them, I used to take my Mother’s phone and video tape it (which mainly happened with the OSTs that were shown on Animax -- another topic for another day). It wasn’t much, but that was what I had back then.

The next meeting with this band would not come before class 6. Suddenly the few kids who listened to music were talking about this new band they discoverd called “Linkin Park”. I immediately went to my dad and asked him to give me his pendrive so that I could copy the songs over from my friends to my PC, but like any parent, he refused. I was heartbroken at this. I used to listen to the radio at that time and I was hoping that they would broadcast a song of theirs in one of their programs. But to my surprise and pain, they didn’t. 

Months passed by like this and I was forgetting about it again. All of a sudden, a friend of mine who lived right beside me told me he had gotten his hands on some of the songs by Linkin Park and we immediately went to his house to have a listen. I wanted to hear the song I listened to back in the day, but since I didn’t know the name, we decided to listen to the song most popular right then called “In The End”. I’ll admit it, I was kind of underwhelmed at first, and was sad that it wasn’t the one I was looking for. We went through each and every music video he had in hopes we would find it, but alas, that song wasn’t there. Regardless, I took his pendrive, copied the songs, and transfered them over to my PC. On the days theat were to follow, I began to binge those songs 24/7 and would spend all my waking hours with them. 

This was back in class 6, and I was an avid gamer back then, But LP had such a profound impact on me that I ignored gaming altogether for months. I even went as far to plead with my dad for hours until he eventually let me borrow his phone and let me copy the songs onto them so that I could listen to them all the time, but I later found out that the formats weren’t supported. And since I didn’t know how conversion worked, I was stuck at a dead end there.

By the winter of of that year, I became an avid LP fan and collected almost every song I could find. It was right around this time that I came across the song I was originally looking for. It was called “Points Of Authority”. I enjoyed it, but found out that I would prefer songs like “In The End” and “Numb” over it. That is when I realised that Linkin Park had become more than just a band that produced a video I loved during my early years. They had taken a very special place in my heart. 

I always was a very shy and quiet kid who didn’t know how to talk to people. Even in class I used to keep to myself while everyone ran around. I remember this incident during the Winter of 2010 when I just finished class 7 and was about to begin class 8. I was returning to Dhaka from Bagerhat. That’s when I discovered a kid from my class was returning on the same Bus with me. Other people in my place probably would have exchanged seats so that they could have sat with a classmate, but I avoided that. In fact, I tried to talk as less as possible due to my problems with public interaction, and we ended up exchanging just a few words the entire trip. 

That year, we were pretty much expected to stay in class from 10 to 5-6 in the evening. Add to that the number batches we had to do back then and you could have somewhere around 10-12 hours solely dedicated to academia. So even if it was to pass time, I had to interact with people. But being the way I was, it still felt awkward for me to talk with others. 

I used to come to class, get a novel or something out of my bag, and spend the whole class reading it. This continued for a while. Eventually though, I started sitting with these two other guys. We were on good terms and we talked and shit, but we weren’t really close before that. We used to get together to talk about LP and sing their songs during school. Eventually they both learned the art of making a makeshift drums out of benches and other people joined in. This kind of sparked the musical revolution in our class and a large number of people were gathering around a bench and singing along to the tunes of LP. Eventually we would move on to explore other works by Poets of the Fall or Metallica or Iron Maiden and such, but it was always LP that started it.

Class 8 passed into class 9, and a couple of us branded ourselves into a tight group based on our musical tastes. We used to do batches together which only streanthened the bond between us. But it was always due to LP that we had come togehter. It will always be due to LP that our batch turned out to be so appreciative of music that we would monthly or sometimes even weekly arrange classroom concerts where people would sing numbers like “Numb” or “Crawling” together. I still remember the final days of highschool when we were singing “In The End”. It was during the end of December or January, and our SSCs were looming right over our heads. We were gonna be adults in a few months, and our worlds would be turned upside down due to various events and self discoveries. 

People would grow apart, people would change, people would leave. 

Even the most daring dreamers of our batch would settle for something less than perfect. But when you are a 16 year old and you are singing songs like “Numb” or “Somewhere I Belong” with the people you grew up with, you don’t let things like that bother you. Honestly speaking, if any one of us had the power to make time stand still on that cold and foggy day, we would have. But life, as they say, goes on, and we eventually -- all of us -- had to let go.

2014 rolled in and we were finished with our SSCs. Then came the long break between Class 10 and 11. Everyday used to be an adventure back then, but now that I think about it, we might have taken it for granted. Our seniors used to tell us to cherish this vacation saying things such as we will never get a break like that ever again. We were always perplexed by that statement, as we were pretty sure we would be getting huge vacations in University too, and in a literal sense, we were right. I mean, my own vacation lasted more than 2 months and I will be getting another one at the end of the year. But I get what they meant now. Even if we have more time and actually get longers break than what we got back then, it isn’t the same. That vacation was one of the last remnants of our childhood. Even though we realise that now, it’s too late now for that. But again, that’s another story for another day. 

By the Winter of 2014, I was pretty sick, and due to some personal issues, I was pretty bummed out. By the beginning of 2015, I was bedridden completely. I had some personal things that I wanted to do, but for some reason I wasn’t able to continue them. To add to that, my dreams of studying abroad were snatched away from me because apparently if you don’t study in one of the government sponsored universities, you are a waste of space, and any kind of aspirations you have that don’t coincide with being an Engineer or a Doctor has to be let go of. On top of that, I missed college for approximately a year. So when I recovered a little, I was forced to double down on studying and batches instead of working on the things I wanted to. I had a pretty rough time back then. I was unsure about my position in the world. It was right around this time that songs like “Numb” and “Somewhere I Belong” took on a very, very personal meaning for me. I would lock myself in my room, sit in a corner, and listen to these two specifically on repeat for hours upon hours. 

Eventually, I would be done with my HSCs and go onto studying at IBA -- settling for what was considered best instead of pursuing what I really wanted. But by then, I didn’t have any other choice, not really. But I guess that’s life eh? You settle for the next best thing, not for what you had been wanting your entire life. 

It was around 2 last night when a friend suddenly called me. I was pretty burnt out already due to a week of classes and other things and was in deep sleep so I really didn’t get much of what he said. I remember him talking about Chester Bennington, but I didn’t pay much heed to it and went back to sleep. I had a tuition around 10 in the morning so I woke up around 9, and like any other young adult my age, the first thing I do is logging in to Facebook. I scrolled down a bit and was perplexed to see that everyone was changing their DP to a picture of Chester. That’s when one of the headlines caught my attention. I immediately went to google to verify if the story was true or not, and it turns out, it is. I couldn’t process it very well, so I left my bed, put on some clothes, took my meds, and headed out to my tuition. While I was there, I was still trying to wrap my head around what just had happened -- reading every article and post I could find -- but it just seemed so unreal to me. I mean, this must be a joke right? He really couldn’t have killed himself? But deep inside, I knew it was all too real. That one final remnant of my childhood had truely ended.

I finished the tuition a bit early and started for home. I was returning home when I saw some friends sitting in a tong where we have been sitting ever since SSC. I went up to them and started talking about Chester’s death and about old times and such. And as we talked, the realisation finally started to kick in that Chester truly was dead, and there really was no going back to how it all had been all those years ago. I could feel something coming up from my stomach. If I hadn’t skipped breakfast, I would have puked without a doubt. But I somehow kept it down and went home after that.

People are pondering upon the cause of Chester’s suicide. Some are even anrgy at him. I guess I couldn’t really blame them, cause I get that feeling of betrayal and frustration. But having dealt with people who have tried suicide or who have been suicidal, I can sympathise with him. It takes a lot for someone to consider killing themself, and it certainly wasn’t an easy decision for him. But if he really felt like that their is no other option for him, I guess I can understand. As David Foster Wallace has stated, “The person in whom Its invisible agony reaches a certain unendurable level will kill herself the same way a trapped person will eventually jump from the window of a burning high-rise. Make no mistake about people who leap from burning windows. Their terror of falling from a great height is still just as great as it would be for you or me standing speculatively at the same window just checking out the view; i.e. the fear of falling remains a constant. The variable here is the other terror, the fire’s flames: when the flames get close enough, falling to death becomes the slightly less terrible of two terrors. It’s not desiring the fall; it’s terror of the flames. And yet nobody down on the sidewalk, looking up and yelling ‘Don’t!’ and ‘Hang on!’, can understand the jump. Not really. You’d have to have personally been trapped and felt flames to really understand a terror way beyond falling.”

But Chester was living the dream right? He had it all. He was rich, famous, and all around a well respected and accomplished artist. So why did he do it one might ask? I guess even if every wish and desire you had comes true, sometimes even that doesn’t cut it. Maybe our entire existense is such. The people who can sedate themselves with day to day activites, well, they are the lucky ones. The ones that can’t, well, I guess they just wither away. Kurt Cobain summed this up best,”Thank you all from the pit of my burning, nauseous stomach for your letters and concern during the past years. I’m too much of an erratic, moody baby! I don’t have the passion anymore, and so remember, it’s better to burn out than to fade away.” 

Or if you want something more modern, “I’d have the vague thought that there was no way I could go back to those days.” 

That’s it then. One of the last remnants of our childhood and a voice of a generation disappears just like that. And I guess there is really nothing we can do about it. So, so long Chester, may you find peace, wherever you are.

Sigh...

This is gonna be a long weekend indeed...

Postscript

Looking over this piece written around five years ago, there are a lot of cracks and a lot of dramatic sentiments that one might consider, well, sentimental. Initially, the plan was to print this as is, but given the very melancholic and very coming-of-age tone of the piece, there needed to be a being-of-age postscript. 

I have come a long way since that dreadful weekend five years ago -- most of us have. Some of us are doing full time jobs. Some of us are married. I myself am trying to chase my dreams. I have an amazing partner who has brought light to that shadowy corner of my room. At the same time, in a lot of ways, I am still that same kid from five years ago. 

“I’d have the vague thought that there was no way I could go back to those days.” 

This much still rings true. To me, it is one of the eternal truths. 

But even though we can’t go back, even though we can’t turn back time, is it all so hopeless?

I guess that’s what I am trying to find out. 

 “That summer Himeno once made a prediction of what was drawing to a close.

Her prediction was half-wrong.

Not even in the end was I ever rich, ever famous.

But her Prediction was half-right.”

““Something really good” happened, all right. And like she said, deep down, I could be glad I lived.”  

Nafis Shahriar is an Editorial Assistant at Dhaka Tribune.

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